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Cizhou Ewer, 10th-early 11th century, Song dynasty. Cizhou ware. Stoneware with white slip and « cut-glaze » peony decor against a grey body, 7 5/8 x 6 5/16 in. (19.4 x 16 cm). Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton, 2001.136. Minneapolis Institute of Arts © 2014 Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Cizhou  type wares are an important, technically diverse, body of popular ceramics manufactured in northern China from early Song (tenth century) onwards. Among the earliest type of Cizhou  ware is a small group of cream-colored vessels whose principle motif is a large, deeply carved, peony with scrolling leaves. Ewers are an important part of this rare sub-group. Typically, they are well-proportioned with short, globular bodies, a flat shoulder, cylindrical neck and long spout. The « cut-glaze » design of this vessel is perhaps the most aesthetically satisfying of the five ewers of this type that are recorded. Its curvilinear design fits the shape of the vessel perfectly and the design has been cut through the white slip to the grey body with unusual clarity and precision.